Italy's new government has only been in office since November 2011 but already it is planning sweeping changes to the country's bloated public sector, as it seeks to liberalise the economy and cut its massive debt while at the same time kick-starting growth.
The first of Trenitalia's refurbished ETR 500 Red Arrow high-speed trains is now back in service following a comprehensive internal refit.
THE refurbishment of Trenitalia's fleet of ETR 500 Red Arrow high-speed trains has three main objectives: to maintain its market dominance, retain the 20% growth in traffic it achieved during the first 10 months of 2011, and prepare itself for head-to-head competition with NTV which launches its .Italo high-speed service this month.
To broaden the appeal of high-speed rail travel, Trenitalia is doing away with traditional first and second-class accommodation and replacing it with four levels of service - standard, premium, business and executive. Trenitalia says there is "no analogy for this revolutionary innovation in any other country." At the same time, standard-class fares are now 5% cheaper than those charged in the former second-class.
The new interiors have been designed by Giugiaro and are intended to offer 30% more space per passenger and for baggage, on-board wi-fi, 62 monitors throughout the train displaying information, ergonomically-designed seats, and LED lighting.
Each train has 272 standard-class reclining seats which are 55.5cm wide and spaced 106cm from the next seat. A catering trolley is dedicated to standard class from which passengers can purchase snacks and drinks.
The two centre coaches are dedicated to premium class. The 134 leather seats are fitted with glass panels to provide greater privacy. Premium-class passengers are offered a newspaper and welcome drink when they board the train.
Business class has 159 seats distributed in three and half coaches, and includes a quiet zone where mobile phones are prevented from ringing. Seating is arranged two-plus-one across the width of each coach, and the 65cm-wide seats have armrests, adjustable headrests, and recline to 115o. Groups of seats are separated by glass panels. Business-class passengers have a dedicated reception area on station platforms and are offered fresh produce and refreshments on board.
Executive class offers passengers the greatest ticket flexibility and comfort, access to the Arrow Club business lounge, and a dedicated reception area on the platform. Seats are 69cm wide with 1m pitch and arranged one-plus-one across the coach. They can recline to 138o and have extendable leg rests. At-seat catering features menus designed by the famous Italian chef Gianfranco Vissani.